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In memoriam: Elias Kyriakides

Above: Elias Kyriakides was a leading expert in the areas of electric power systems and critical infrastructure systems with an emphasis on wide area monitoring and control, power system operations and the integration of renewable energy sources. Photo courtesy of the KIOS Center of Excellence, University of Cyprus

Elias Kyriakides, an adjunct faculty member in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University who was renowned for his award-winning contributions in the field of power systems, passed away recently.

Kyriakides earned master’s and doctoral degrees at ASU and in 2004 became one of the first recipients of the Fulton Schools’ Palais Outstanding Doctoral Student Award.

His doctoral research focused on the identification of model parameters of large synchronous generators, specifically on how to use operational data while a machine was in service without causing an outage to the generator.

Widely respected as researcher and educator

After college, Kyriakides joined the faculty of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Cyprus in Nicosia in his home country. There he made his mark as a respected teacher and researcher, rising through the ranks to earn the title of associate professor of electrical engineering by 2015.

He made research advances in multiple aspects of mechanical electric power, such as optimizing production systems, improving grid security and integrating renewable energy into the grid. He taught courses on numerous subjects, including electrical power system analysis and power system generation and control.

Kyriakides also held important leadership positions at the University of Cyprus. In 2016, he was named vice-chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He also had a key role in the university’s involvement with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, known as IEEE. 

Kyriakides was chair of the IEEE Cyprus Section Committee and served as chair of the Cyprus Chapter of the IEEE Power and Energy Society. He also co-founded the KIOS Research and Innovation Center of Excellence.

During his career, Kyriakides co-authored four books and published more than 200 research papers in various scientific journals and conference proceedings. His work attracted support for 30 research projects with a total budget of more than 5 million euros.

For the achievements in his areas of expertise, Kyriakides earned a number of prestigious honors. In 2018, he was elected a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology and earned the status of Chartered Engineer by the same organization.

A Senior Member of the IEEE, Kyriakides also earned second prize in the Cyprus Entrepreneurship Competition for his project, “Cynergy: Commercialization of a Patented Invention for Electricity Conversion from dc to ac.”

Maintaining connections to his alma mater

Kyriakides maintained strong ties to ASU throughout his career. In 2009, he became an adjunct professor in the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, one of the six Fulton Schools. This past summer, he hosted a group of ASU students who traveled to Cyprus as part of the National Science Foundation’s International Research Experiences for Students program, helping them make valuable connections at the University of Cyprus.

Kyriakides “loved to work with students,” says Gerald Heydt, an ASU Regents Emeritus Professor in the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering and one of Kyriakides’ former teachers who later frequently collaborated with him on research projects.  

“He could communicate with beginning students and clearly express to them how to solve engineering problems,” Heydt says.

Heydt notes that Kyriakides had valuable practical experience in engineering beyond the laboratory, including his work as a design and inspection engineer on projects related to the construction of the Paphos military air force base in Cyprus. The hands-on insight Kyriakides gained enabled him to use case histories of projects in presentations that taught students the importance of engineering principles.

“He always integrated students into his professional activities, in project work and in working with international professional organizations,” Heydt says.

Students and colleagues benefited from his collaborations

At ASU, Kyriakides stood out for his exemplary academic accomplishments. As a graduate student, he earned a 4.0 GPA and produced an outstanding dissertation entitled, “Innovative concepts for on-line synchronous generator parameter estimation.”

Heydt notes that Kyriakides was unparalleled in his talent as a researcher who was able to handle some of the most complex problems in his field.

“Elias could sort out the important issues from complicated engineering facts,” Heydt says, adding that Kyriakides was also an excellent research collaborator.

“He always did extensive literature searches, and he knew what others thought about engineering problems. Whenever he came to a meeting, he was solidly prepared. He knew what parts of a given problem were already done and what parts needed more attention,” Heydt says. “It was a pleasure to work with Elias. Although I was the senior professor, he usually taught me about key issues.”

Another professor in the School of Electrical, Computer, and Energy Engineering, Andreas Spanias, also teamed with Kyriakides on research projects. One of their proposals gave a group of ASU students the opportunity to travel to Cyprus to learn about the work being conducted in Kyriakides’s lab.

“We began working together on solar energy monitoring and the use of machine learning to detect faults in solar panels,” Spanias says.

“We have published a paper together. More recently, our joint National Science Foundation International Research Experiences for Students proposal received funding in April 2019 and the collaboration became stronger with ASU students funded to spend time in Elias’s lab. The advising and all the local arrangements made by Elias were outstanding.”

Kyriakides passed away on October 28 at the age of 44. He is survived his wife, Stella, and their two children. He will be deeply missed by his family, friends and colleagues.

man sitting at desk

Elias Kyriakides published more than 200 articles in top-ranked journals and conferences in the area of power engineering and renewables. Photo courtesy of the KIOS Center of Excellence, University of Cyprus

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